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I have a theory, okay, so I know it’s far fetched… but I am CRAZY about the green ember and my favorite character is smalls, so I have to dream a little. I have based my theory on facts and direct quotes from the green ember, FYI you will want to have read all three books in the series (green ember, ember falls, ember rising). if you noticed, in book one when Wilfred tells us IN DETAIL about the king dying, there are several clues. this is on page 269:

“You are betrayed Jupiter,’ 

Morbin said triumphant, spiteful rasp.

“Yes,’ 

the king said, 

‘but it will not hold. All will be well.’ 

“Well? Well?’ 

he sneered. 

‘You are captive, O great and mighty king. You will die,’ 

morbin said. 

“Yes, I will. But already an answer to this treachery and murder forms in the mouth of the Great Wood.’ 

“Then I will burn the wood,’ 

morbin said. 

“Even if you burn the great wood down, Morbin bird, among the smoldering embers they will find that one is green. The seed of a new world. It will yeild in time a mended wood, greater than even what I have seen.’ 

“A happy fantasy,’ 

Morbin said, cackling. 

“Yes,’ 

the king said.

‘I am my fathers true son, and my son is true let your talons strike; let the sky blacken with your cursed foul army. You cannot kill an idea. You cannot murder a dream. You will fail morbin, because—’ but he was allowed to say no more.”

so here’s what I’m wondering, could the whitson’s stone some how boost the king’s strength and endurance? perhaps, when it was nocked off, the king become weaker, being without the precious stone. after all, isn’t it just a stone? what’s so special about it? what makes it important? same thing with the green ember. aren’t there hundreds of green embers in the world? maybe this ember is not an ordinary ember. perhaps the green ember protects the heir to keep him alive so that he may be crowned? keep in mind that when smalls died he DID NOT have the green ember with him. hadn’t he survived many attacks before? why not this one? the green ember-maybe? in the last chapter of the third book, heather finds small’s body. was I the only one who thought that she had heard is heart beat? perhaps that is why her eyes “widened in wonder”? I mean, it’s LITERALLY CALLED HEART OF HOPE, and she had just been stabbed, and may in fact die, so what’s hopeful? she played her ear on his chest, over his heart, then her eyes widened in wonder. the chapter name is HEART of hope, as in his heart’s STILL BEATING. also, she had the green ember with her down there with small’s body, perhaps the green ember, being so close, gave smalls the extra boost of life he needed? going back to the story of king Jupiter’s fall, Wilfred had said the morbin didn’t want to kill the king, only humble him. perhaps, locking small’s up as a keep sake-a trophy- perhaps that was morbin’s intention all along. maybe that’s why smalls is still alive (maybe alive). I mean, come on, if you pay close attention, SD Smith gave us lots of clues to string us on that he was alive-only enough to give you a feeling of life, not actually TELLING you he was. he needed it to be a dramatic ending, and it was! I have read the third book about 12 times now.  Hope this helps!